For Mack

My husband told me all about you. How you showed up in his life, unannounced and with little fan fare, shortly after our son died. You knew nothing about my husband, about us, yet you clicked with him in a forever way. The two of you became inseparable and I only found it mildly annoying at first.

You were my husband's first man-crush.

I'd tease him that he was trading me in for a manlier model and Boo would get indignant and huffy and say, "That's not funny, Tanis."

(It kinda was. I enjoy ruffling your feathers dear husband. You ought to know that by now.)

img_4068_2You showed up on my doorstep on a hot sunny afternoon, with a smile and a six pack of beer. You weren't what I was expecting to meet. I knew you were tall and blonde and funny but I didn't expect to find kindness in your eyes or such intellect hidden underneath that that baseball cap you always insist on wearing.

You became my friend too, over that hot summer, and you wound yourself deep into the heart of our family at a time when we were still hurting, still fragile. You made life seem a little brighter with every lame joke you told, every smile you bestowed upon my children.

You became, and still are, the other man in my life. My husband's best friend and one of my own.

This Friday, you will be across the country receiving an award I know you would rather not accept.

I know you don't think you did anything heroic. I know you flagellate yourself every time you think of that fateful day. I've seen the pain in your eyes and the sorrow on your face as you wonder if you could have done anything different, anything to change the outcome of that long ago afternoon.

My husband was witness to it all and his voice shakes with pain and admiration when he retells the story of your actions. How you unflinchingly pushed past security and lowered yourself into a boiler where two men were trapped with no way of escaping the heat of over 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

They were boiling to death in their own skins and no one was around to help them.

Except you.

You risked your life to try and save theirs. You broke every rule and safety guideline that was established to heed the desperate calls of two men who were dying a horrible heated death. You lowered yourself into that boiler, that cauldron of heat, and helped get those men to safety.

You held that man's lifeless body in your own as you pulled him out of the heat and whispered to him over and over again that it would be okay. You stayed by his side until the paramedics arrived to take the two men to the hospital in a desperate bid to save them.

You wept with frustration and anguish knowing you couldn't have done more, that for every second you took to reach them was one more second of torture for those men.

You were wrecked with grief when you learned one of the men did not make it, and the other man is permanently damaged from the heat.

You have held yourself accountable personally, for a work accident that had nothing to do with you, for a tragic outcome that would have been worse if it was not for your quick unflinching actions that afternoon.

You reject the title 'hero' because you can't escape the image of that man's face as you held him in his arms, you can't forget the feeling of his heated skin in your arms. You can't forget the image of his wife and loved ones as they surrounded his casket.

But heroes don't wear spandex or drive Batmobiles.

Heroes are everyday people who put others before themselves. Heroes are people who try and help with little thought or regards to their personal benefit or even safety.

Heroes come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I've been blessed to meet several in my life and I'm here to tell you they don't look like they do in the movies. Just look at the little kid in the cancer ward, inspiring adults and children to live better, to do better with every second of their sick life. Look at the mother who puts her child before herself, or the father who would move mountains to protect his family.

Heroes aren't always doctors or police or fire fighters.

Heroes are everyday people, like you my friend, who take the time to reach out to help someone with out thinking about how they themselves will benefit.

Your bravery (and stupidity...yes what you did was stupid, but I'll forgive it,) amazed me that fateful day.

Your courage to stand up for further safety checks and change the system to ensure no person would ever have to suffer such a fate again on a job site, inspires and reminds me that no matter how up hill the battle seems, it can always be won.

You don't see the ripple waves your actions have produced; you can't see past the horror of that moment. But your coworkers see, my children see, your own son sees. They see the example you have set with your actions and they know. They know a hero when they see one.

The Governor General of Canada is going to ensure that the entire country knows what you did was heart breakingly difficult when she pins the Medal of Bravery on your chest this Friday.

Boo and I can't be there in person, but we will both be by your side in spirit, waiting for your arrival back home, where we will lift our beer bottles and toast the fact we were lucky enough to find you and smart enough to keep you around.

You are a hero Mack. You are our hero.

And every time I think of you, my friend, I'm going to hear the theme song to Hercules play in my head.

Maybe, with a few beer and some luck, I'll be able to convince you to wear Herc's toga for me.


Congratulations Mack. Boo and I are so damn proud of you.

*To any Albertan ladies reading this, why yes, Mack is single. And I can personally vouch for him. Wink, wink.*

*And why yes, Mack, I did have to post that yummy picture of you up above. I consider it my duty as a woman to share the eye candy.*